Healthcare professionals file suit against Pfizer alleging racial bias in minorities-only fellowship

Do No Harm is suing Pfizer in the U.S. Southern District of New York for allegedly violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

A group of healthcare professionals has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer alleging the pharmaceutical company is discriminating against whites and Asians in its prestigious fellowship program because it explicitly excludes members of those races from applying. 

The group, Do No Harm sued Pfizer, filed the suit Thursday in the U.S. Southern District of New York, alleging a violation of  Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and New York law with its Breakthrough Fellowship Program, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The program is only for applicants who are "Black/African American, Latino/Hispanic and Native Americans."

The stated goal of Pfizer's fellowship is to increase diversity in its workforce by having "100 new leaders at Pfizer" from these "underrepresented" groups by 2025.

The program includes summer internships for rising college seniors, full-time employment for two years after graduation, a two-year master’s program with a corporate-funded scholarship, another summer internship, and guaranteed post-graduate employment. 

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination "under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Do No Harm argues that Pfizer must follow that law because of its participation in federally funded Medicaid, Medicare, and National Institutes of Health-funded programs. Additionally, the state and city of New York, in which Pfizer is based, prohibit racial discrimination in internships and job-training programs. 

Pfizer says "all of our actions comply fully with all U.S. employment laws, including the Breakthrough Fellowship Program" and that "we create opportunities for people without taking them away from others."

Just the News reported on Pfizer's fellowship earlier this month.